BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian authorities announced Thursday that 70 wild hippos which notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar left behind would be relocated to Mexico and India.
“The Ostok Sanctuary International Foundation has expressed its interest in moving a group of 70 hippos from Puerto Triunfo to natural sanctuaries in India and Mexico,” said the governor of Antioquia, Anibal Gaviria.
“Because we are friends of animals, our government has been accompanying the process.
“We are only waiting for the Colombian Agricultural Institute to give the necessary permits to carry out the transfer operation,” Gaviria added.
Ten hippos will be sent to a sanctuary in Mexico and 60 to a park in India. The transfer costs could amount to USD1 million, according to Cornare, an environmental protection entity.
During his life, Escobar brought some 1,200 exotic animals into the country from all over the world, including elephants, ostriches, zebras, camels, giraffes and hippos that he kept at his private ranch, Hacienda Napoles, in Antioquia.
After his death in 1993, most of the animals were transferred to zoos around the country except the hippos. Four hippos — one male and three females — were left because they could not be captured and transported.
Three decades later, they have dispersed around the country, especially in Puerto Triunfo, near the Magdalena River Basin. Experts say there appears to be over 100 of these specimens in the country and their population continues to grow steadily due to a lack of natural predators.
In 10 years, there could be more than 150 hippos, according to a study by Instituto Humboldt, a biodiversity research institute.
Last year, the Ministry of Environment included the hippos on a list of invasive species that are a potential problem for biodiversity and are having a negative impact on the habitat of native species. (Anadolu)
Escobar’s herd of ‘cocaine hippos’ are seen swimming close to the Magdalena River in Doradal, Colombia in March 22.